I think the boardwalk there may be one of my favorite places on the planet, and I am certain that it is one of our son’s: he just (like, this week) made the leap from “rides are kind of scary and I may or may not panic at the idea of either getting on one or having to get off, ever” to GIVE ME ALL OF THE RIDES AND GIVE THEM TO ME YESTERDAY. We bought him an unlimited ride bracelet because we’re suckers and because his reaction when we said we were going back to The Place With The Rides was priceless, and it was worth every penny. (The four-dollar Dixie cup of watered-down root beer I could have done without, but that’s my fault for forgetting the golden rule of carnival-going, which is Bring Thine Own Food Or Pay Unconscionable Amounts Of Money For Stale Pretzels With Neon Cheese.)
You guys, I am having so much fun.
I knew spending the summer out here would be interesting – there was no way it wouldn’t be, at the very least, different, and I’m generally of the opinion that different is good - but still: I hadn’t anticipated being quite so…happy.
The truth, I think, is that over the past year I’ve gotten used to being sort of low-grade lonely all the time, with Kendrick away more nights than not. I’m not boo-hooing about this – like I’ve said over and over, the decision for him to go to school full-time in another state was a decision that we made as a family and one that I am one hundred percent certain was the right one, but it’s not always easy on either of us. I know Kendrick misses us, and I imagine that being sort of half-in and half-out of two very different lives must be stressful and make it hard for him to fully immerse himself in either. And I spend a lot of time pretending it’s no big deal to spend this much time separated - I’ve always been sort of a loner, and honestly enjoy being on my own - but of course it is. A big deal. We got married and had a child because we wanted to have a family, and part of having a family is being together, not just during special day trips and vacations and whatnot, but during the ordinary times. The everyday. And we spend a lot of everydays apart lately.
A couple of days ago, reader Anthea asked if I thought Indy and I would have flown out for the summer if I wasn’t pregnant, and her question really made me think. Because the answer that first came to mind was, “Of course!” The logistics associated with making a cross-country move during an already physically and emotionally overwhelming time was where most of the stress came from, so if we hadn’t been welcoming a new family member this summer, wouldn’t it just have been…an adventure? An awesomely cool opportunity?
But then I thought some more, and realized that the real answer is that I wouldn’t have come. Our certainty that we wanted to spend these last few weeks before the birth together, and then be positive that Kendrick would be there for the birth and for the first few weeks of our daughter’s life sort of made the decision for us, and I think if I hadn’t had that push I probably would have just said, “Eh, it’s too much hassle; we’ll spend a couple of months apart; so what? It’ll be fine.” And I would have stayed on the East Coast and would have ended up feeling sad and resentful and lonely that even those limited times we’re used to spending together had been taken away. I would have played the martyr and taken it out on Kendrick and not been as supportive as I would have liked to be, and it would have been a bad experience for all three of us.
And that’s really unfortunate, because getting to spend this much time together over the past couple of weeks is making me realize how much I’ve missed it. And more than that: how much Indy has missed it. Which is all to say: I’m so glad we made this decision, because it wasn’t an obvious or an easy one to make, and I wasn’t sure I’d get out here and feel like we’d done the right thing. I thought I’d end up justifying the choice as the lesser of two not-so-great options. But now that we’re in it I not only think it was “right”; I think we came very close to missing out on something so special that we’ll remember it forever, and a lesson so important that it’ll last and last: that the biggest thing – the only thing, when it comes down to it – is that we’re together, wherever we go and whatever we do and whatever may change with the rest of it all.
This is part of a song that Kendrick wrote many years ago, and that makes sense today.
Just wrote a blog post about feminism. Had someone respond with "Another feminist telling women to act like men. How original. Feminism is gross."Would appreciate your thoughts (and encouragement) if possible.
The things people think about you is beyond your control. If you don’t become your true self, say what you feel, and stand behind what you believe because of what people will think or say about you, you will be a tiny mushroom for Mario to jump on and over for the rest of your life. Don’t be a mushroom, be a Mario.
I repeat: The things people think about you is beyond your control. Your only obligation to the world is to listen to everybody, take shit from nobody, and be kind. Your only obligation to yourself is to try to become the person you wish you could be.
My advice for anything: Refuse to be timid. Don’t confuse timid with quiet or shy or introverted. Timid is when you stay quiet because you are worried more about the backlash than the conviction. You deserve to be brave for your convictions. You deserve to be heard.
As for feminism…a lot of people think feminism is gross. It’s just how it is. But I put myself in that fight because it is a fight I believe in, and I’m happier being in that fight than I was when I stayed quiet on the sidelines.
Girl. Be the kind of you that makes you happy. When dirt is thrown at you, be the kind of person that keeps on going.
The most surprising thing about our temporary apartment is how familiar it feels to me. It feels familiar for obvious physical reasons – it’s a straightforward, pretty generic place, the type that you find in little complexes all over California, with stucco walls and beige carpets and low ceilings and a tiny patio and sliding closet doors, and I recognize it from the Los Angeles apartments that my friends and I lived in in our early twenties. But more than that, it’s something about the spareness. The absence of “things,” and the space that absence creates.
When I first moved out to California all by myself, not really knowing anyone at all, in my bedroom was a dresser and a bed, and in my postage-stamp living room was a couch, a desk, a coffee table and a TV table. Every piece was from Ikea and either white or that particular shade of Ikea birch wood. And I loved that apartment so much: it was simple and clean in a way that made a hard period in my life feel easier. It felt like “me” in a way that I don’t know any space I’ve lived in has ever felt since not because it was “stylish” or “unique” or “filled with personality”…but rather because the things in it were so pared-down, carefully curated because that was the only option available to me. Each and every thing I owned was there not because it was part of a collection or even just because I liked it; it was there because it mattered.
At twenty-two years old, I couldn’t afford and didn’t especially want things like fancy vases and art books and tchotchkes; I bought one candle at a time to set on my coffee table, and always spent a a long time choosing a scent I really, really liked, burning it only sparingly. I didn’t have the money for the fancy throw pillows and quilt I saw at Macy’s, so I threw a hot-pink, fringed blanket that I’d found at a market in Santa Fe over the sheets I used in college, and all of a sudden my white box of a bedroom felt transformed.
Sitting on top of my dresser at home right now are piles of costume jewelry, loads of beauty products, a mountain of business cards I haven’t sifted through yet, a spray of bobby pins. On our coffee table are stacks of books, candles, a pile of remotes, pens, papers, and whatever projects I’m working on at the moment.
On our dresser here is a pair of sunglasses. On the coffee table: a single travel candle. There’s nothing on the floor except for a soccer ball that someone left behind for us.
It feels good, and I didn’t expect it to. Kendrick turned to me in bed last night and said, “It’s weird; you seem so relaxed out here and I was expecting you to be so panicked.” I am. And it’s not because we’re “settled in”; I feel more relaxed than I did even before I found out we were moving. At home, it seems like my days so often get tangled up in a haze of plans and rushing and things I have to do and people I have to see and stuff. Here, all we have to do is be with each other, eat when we’re hungry and swim when we’re hot, work when it’s daytime and sleep when it’s night. I don’t have throw pillows to arrange on the bed, and so making it in the morning takes seconds. I don’t have different-sized bowls or specialty knives or a cheese grater, and so I make whatever food I can, and it’s easy and tastes pretty good and that’s all that any of us cares about.
Every night we lay in bed with our hands on my stomach, and talk about the baby. One day she will be here, and it’ll be different, and still: all we will have to do is be with each other as the hours roll past. There’s something very peaceful about that.
I know our old life with all our things is waiting for us at the end of this, and I’m grateful: it’s awesome to need a random cooking tool, or a few extra pillowcases, or a serving bowl that’s just the right size, and know that you’ll be able to find all these not-so-necessary-but-nice-to-have things somewhere in your cupboards.
But something about where we are right now feels like starting over, like we’re stripping down and walking into an adventure with each other and not a whole lot else except for a soccer ball that someone else left behind, and that’s now become ours.
This weekend marked the first day of summer…and the last summer weekend of the year that we’ll spend on the East Coast (we don’t get back until Labor Day Weekend).
It’s just the two of us at the moment – Kendrick started work in SF a couple of weeks ago – so Indy and I spent the days walking in the woods, going to farmer’s markets, driving up the Saw Mill, picking raspberries, looking at sheep and horses and baby chicks (!) at Stone Barns (they’re still there for a couple more weeks if you want to plan a day trip), and making trips to the pool and the playground and the pool and the playground and the pool. (Lots of pools and playgrounds this weekend.) On Sunday night, my mom and dad came up to say goodbye and eat mussels and sweet corn in the backyard.
After they left, I cried. And I’m crying a little while writing this. It’s not because I’m not looking forward to it – I am; I’m excited about seeing Kendrick, and the Pacific Ocean, and the day trips we’ll be able to take, and at this point the big, headache-y logistical issues (like my doctor and insurance plan, our rental car, Indy’s day camp, all the records that had to be secured and printed out and sent to the appropriate parties) have pretty much been worked out.
But thoughts as silly as But I just want to sleep in my own bed with all my things that I need right there next to me are enough to bring tears. Obviously part of this is just being sort of emotional in general right now – eight months pregnant will do that to you – and obviously it’s not my bed that’s the issue and obviously I don’t need that many “things” at all; that’s just me whining. The issue is that I feel so safe and comfortable in my home, and I like feeling that way right now. I love my yard, love my hammock, love that I can pick rosemary from right outside my door whenever I need it. When I next see my house, the rosemary will be dead and summer will have ended, even though it’s only just begun. And that breaks my heart a little bit.
But even more than that is the fact my son feels safe and comfortable here, in his home and in his town. I’m so anxious about how he’s going to handle the transition to becoming a big brother already that adding in a new living situation, new friends, new camp, new routine, new everything…I’m just…worried about him. I want him to have the best summer of his little life.
I know I’m going to forget to pack that one toy that he is going to end up wanting to have in California more than any other, and that it’s going to make me feel so sad that I can’t give him that silly little thing that he doesn’t need, of course, but that he wants, just because holding it makes him feel safer.
Because I’ll know exactly how he feels.
I also know that he’s a kid, and kids are nothing if not adaptable, and that he’ll be fine. But I also know how much he loves raspberries…and here, in the place where we live, I know exactly where to take him to eat them straight off of the bush.